What comes to mind when you think of Japan? Culture or modernity? Temples or skyscrapers? Peaceful gardens or mountainous adventures? The variety is like nowhere else on the planet, the contrasts complimenting each other, providing a perfect balance.
For a long time, the first thing that came to my mind was Tokyo. Its hard to ignore the dazzling city lights, illuminating the streets and the skyline alike, unmistakeable landmarks and architecture flowing seamlessly into the distance. But Tokyo’s heterogeneous streets are a clue to the diversity found throughout Japan.
For a city famous for its futuristic architecture, historic buildings remain in vast numbers, preserving the cultural identity and traditions of the area. The hum of the bustling streets seem a world away when taking a moment to yourself, resting in the peaceful gardens and parks located so close to the busy urban areas. Way into the distance, Mount Fuji towers over the city as eventually the man-made metropolis gives way to the natural beauty and elegance of Japan’s landscape.
I am an outdoors enthusiast, biophilic and an adventurer. Until recently I did not know what lay on the other side of Mount Fuji. That this was just one peak - the most iconic - of a vast range of peaks making up the mountainous backbone running through the heart of Japan. This extreme wilderness is now the thing that intrigues me most. Exploring the rugged mountain outcrops and the picturesque lakes, which shift in beauty throughout the seasons. Traditions remain strong in rural parts, and ways of life stay true to heritage.
Whilst I’d still love to experience the vibrancy of Tokyo, I want to explore the Shinto Shrine on the way to the peak of Mount Tsukuba and look down on the Kanto Plain, to see the beauty of the Biei Blue Pond in winter, meditate in the Kenrokuen Garden, and stay in the traditional Gassho-Zukuri houses of Gokayama.
But that is just me, and just a handful of ideas in exploring a country where options are almost unlimited. There certainly is something for everyone, so why do you want to travel in Japan?